Conservative Diary

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David Cameron suggests that the CWU is capitalising on a weak Prime Minister and a weak Government at PMQs

Jonathan Isaby's verdict: "A relatively low key PMQs, in a chamber which even contained a few empty places. David Cameron rightfully accused the Government of weakness, and - as if to demonstrate that - Brown gave straight answers to few, if any, of the questions from Tory MPs."

Highlights, not verbatim:

12.28pm Tory MP Richard Ottaway raises his concern (re assisted suicide) that the DPP is effectively writing the law. Brown says that the law is settled by Parliament and that interpretation of it has to be in line with the law.

12.21pm Wellingborough Conservative MP Peter Bone says we'll be paying £4 billion more to the EU next year due to losing the rebate negotiated by Thatcher and surrendered by Labour - is this the price we are paying for Tony Blair to become European President? Brown replies by parrotting the line about 3 million jobs depending on the EU and does not refer to Blair.

12.18pm Tory MP Graham Brady complains that his constituents are paying more tax to allow Scottish councils to freeze their council tax. Brown's reply fails to address his question at all.

12.12pm Nick Clegg wants the big banks split up and asks if Mervyn King was wrong in what he said last night. Brown fails to address that direct question. Clegg says the banks are increasingly operating like a cartel and paying themselves bonuses, and suggests imposing an additional tax on taxpayer-owned banks' profits. Brown says Clegg is wrong.

12.10pm Cameron says Brown needs to show leadership, backbone and courage - of which he has none to offer. Brown recites in response a list of things on which he says the Tories have been wrong and failed to show leadership.

12.08pm Cameron reminds the Commons that the Labour Party is reliant on the CWU for funds. He quotes a business minister as having accepted a connection between dropping the bill and increased union militancy: isn't it true that the union can seek a weak PM and a weak Government?

12.05pm Cameron asks why the bill to part-privatise the Royal Mail has not come back from the Lords. Brown say there is no commercial buyer for it, and that that is irrelevant to the dispute in any case. Cameron says it is nonsense and that the bill has been stopped because Labour backbenchers won't support it - why won't he admit that? Brown refuses to address the direct question. Cameron says the Tories will support the bill and says that the PM can't give a straight answer to a straight question. He points out that union militancy has got worse since the bill was dropped.

12.04pm David Cameron raises the planned postal strikes and asks Brown to condemn the strikes. Brown says the strikes would be counterproductive and urges negotiation and mediation.

12.02pm Tory MP Crispin Blunt raises the issue of TA training. Brown claims that anyone going to Afghanistan will "secure the training necessary".

12pm Gordon Brown lists his engagements and also says we are approaching a stage where policing and justice powers can be devolved to Northern Ireland.

Jonathan Isaby

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